National Intangible Cultural Heritage
Hand-hold Lion Dance
Category: National

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Maqiao Hand-hold Lion Dance, also called “Xing Jie (street parading)”, was originated from the lantern exhibition of Spring Festival, God Greeting Temple Fair and folk parading performance on festivals in Ming and Qing Dynasty. It was organized by country gentlemen to encourage local people to show off wealth, and was a symbol of joyfulness, happiness, auspiciousness and safeness. During the period of Republic of China, Niu Yongjian, a senior statesman of Kuo Min Tang, created “Yunpai Lion dance” in his hometown, Maqiao, and further inherited and developed the traditional hand-hold lion dance of Maqiao.

In the 1950s, the local people stopped holding lantern exhibitions and temple fairs due to the reason of social changes. Performance of hand-hold lion dance was also suspended in Maqiao.

In 1983, Maqiao Hand-hold Lion Dance appeared on the stage again as an outstanding traditional folk art thanks to the support of Cultural Center of Shanghai County, Shanghai Mass Art Center and officials from government on township and village-level. Performance of Maqiao Hand-hold Lion Dance has been held for nearly one hundred times on various occasions, e.g. the 5th National Sports Meeting, Variety Show of Shanghai for celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, tennis match of East Asian Games, the 9th Sports Meeting of Shanghai, the 4th Peasants’ Sports Meeting of Shanghai, Beijing Ditan Temple Fair, Shenyang National Yanko Dance Festival, and several festival celebrations in Shanghai and Minhang District. Hand-hold Lion Dance has become a cultural brand of Maqiao Town. In November 1992, Maqiao Hand-hold Lion dance won a Third Prize on the National Folk Music and Dance Performance and an Outstanding Prize on the October Singing Festival of Shanghai.

On April 10, 2007, Minhang District Bureau of Culture, Radio and Broadcast released the first batch of “Intangible Cultural Heritage List of Minhang District”; in June 2007, Maqiao Hand-hold Lion Dance was listed as the first batch of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Shanghai, and was recommended to apply for State-level Conservation Project. When making a Maqiao hand-hold lion, craftsman would use bamboo to make its head, tail and skeleton, cover the lion’s skeleton with brown paper, and decorate the lion with colorful paper, colorful ball and ink-painting. If you lit a candle inside the lion, you will see light from outside.

Now craftsmen use the same techniques to make a hand-hold lion’s skeleton as they did in the past, but they would connect the lion’s body, head, waist and back with colorful cloth and decorate a Chinese character “Shou (long life)” on the lion, so as to create exaggerated, colorful images for the lion and convey auspicious meanings on festivals. The lion has a concave face, protruded eyes, a big mouth, and its head is decorated with pointed, cylindrical colorful decorations to show martial, brave and masculine features of a lion. The lion’s auricle is decorated with velvet threads in various colors to show the flexible, tactful and agile features of a lion.

The movements of hand-hold lion dance include rolling, tumbling, crawling, jumping, falling, sitting, turning and lying down. These eight movements, either dynamic or tranquil, reveal various emotions of the lion, such as pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy. The lion dance would be performed with the accompaniment of gong and drum percussion. It aims to create ardent, festive and joyful artistic atmosphere, so as to impress the audiences.

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